Top positive review
90 of 93 people found this helpful
Great music, great remastering, bad track order
on July 9, 2006
First off, the bad...The tracks are not in chronological order, which i don't like. I like to hear the band's progression through the years. Also, the early years had a smaller band, without strings. Later, the band brass/reed section got larger, and he added strings for a lusher sound. If they would have done it chronologically, then you could have 2 discs, one for whichever mood you're in: the early hard swingin' big band, or the later more lush string-laden band. Luckily, i have iTunes and a CD burner.
Now the good. I won't tell you about Artie Shaw. There's a million websites for a history lesson. You are reading this for a review of the CD...not the artist. The re-mastering is probably about as good as they will get this music to sound...or at least with current technology. The bass is deep, but not so much that it drowns out any other instruments or clarity. The high end is very bright, although a tad shrill at times, on the earliest recordings (necessary to avoid losing clarity and fidelity) and the mid range is clear and defined.
NOTE: As another reviever noted, there are a few tracks with some scratchiness to them...but they are in the original acetates, of which some are in better conditions than others. However, it's a fine line to walk when mastering. The more scratchiness the engineers remove, the more clarity you will also remove. I've heard CD's with music as old as the 1920's with NO SCRATCHINESS, but they sound SO DULL as well. No punch. It's like listening to music with cotten in your ears. So, engineers have to pick the line where the level of scratchiness is acceptable to maintain a certain level of clarity. They have certainly done that on this CD set.
If you are a fan, new or old of Swing music, and you want a good sampling of some of the swing kings, these "Essential" ones by Columbia/Legacy/Bluebird are the way to go. They have the best sound, they fit a lot of music on the discs, and aren't very expensive. If the guy you're looking for is not available, try the "Bluebird's Best" series. They are mastered by the same people, and sound great as well. Shy away from the import bootlegs by companies you've never heard of. Sure, they'll give you more for your buck, but without access to the original acetates, they remaster from old 78's, or from other's later LP and CD collections. They just do NOT sound as good. Trust me, i've tried many labels. So stick with the major labels, and (usually), the newer the re-mastering, the better.
Good luck, and keep swingin'!